The band is still together. Keith Hernandez has agreed to a contract extension with SNY and the Mets that may be longer than his recently expired 3-year deal. This will keep the incomparable announcing team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling side by side for the 2016 Mets campaign, their 11th season together. For me, there is nothing better than a warm summer evening, a freshly delivered pizza and a Mets game. You don’t know if they will win, lose or break your heart, but you can always count on Gary, Keith and Ron to make it fun. The former star first baseman and member of the 1986 World Champions announces with a style all his own. More a stream of consciousness than color commentary, the sardonic, knowledgeable edge resonates with Mets fans. His offhand, honest and sometimes brazen manner embodies the New York attitude. He makes it feel like you’re watching the game with a friend, and not some intangible, distant talking head. Take this exchange between Keith and Gary as an example:
It’s early in the 2014 Season and the Mets are beating the Diamondbacks 9-0 in Arizona. The perfect setting for things to get ridiculous. The camera pans through the stands showing people eating foot long hotdogs.
Keith: “That is a 25 dollar hotdog folks.”
Gary: “Do you need a knife and fork to eat it?”
The camera stops on a man and his girlfriend enjoying a pair of the hotdogs.
Keith: “My goodness!”
Gary: “How much meat is in a 25 dollar hotdog? A few pounds, right?”
Keith: “I wasn’t talking about the hotdog.”
And that was just two members of the dynamic trio. When you add Ron Darling into the mix, things get even crazier. My favorite GKR moment of the 2015 season was the infamous “ball bag” exchange. A baseball had apparently fallen out of the home plate umpire’s bag of extra balls and was laying on the ground just behind home plate. Pitcher Logan Verrett was set to throw a pitch when he noticed the errant ball. That’s when this happened:
Ron: “Logan Verrett was about to throw a pitch but he had to point to D’Arnaud (the catcher), cause a ball had dropped out of Bob Davidson’s sack……. I MEAN BAG….. (laughs)…. and fell out on the ground.”
The three announcers go silent, except for the sound of muffled laughs and giggles.
Keith: “I’ve never seen a ball fall out of a sack before!”
More giggling ensues before Gary Cohen, the consummate professional, tries to pull things back together by stating the ball/strike count.
Ron: “There are times when I regret this show is live.”
Those are just two examples of what makes Gary, Keith and Ron the single greatest announcing team in professional sports. Mets games wouldn’t be the same without them. They’re there for the good times, they’re there for the bad times, they’re our guides through the journey that is a 162-game baseball season and thanks to the Mets and SNY they’ll be there again in 2016.